Portal:Africa

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Location of Africa on the world map
Satellite map of Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries"), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.

Africa's population is the youngest among all the continents; 50% of Africans are 19 years old or younger.

Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is the largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

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Hannibal counting the rings of the Roman knights killed during the battle, statue by Sébastien Slodtz, 1704, Louvre

The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, taking place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of the Carthaginian Empire under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Following the Battle of Cannae, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic. Although the battle failed to decide the outcome of the war in favour of Carthage, it is regarded as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and the greatest defeat of Rome.

Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to confront Hannibal at Cannae, with roughly 87,000 Roman and Allied troops. With their right wing positioned near the Aufidus River, the Romans placed their cavalry on their flanks and massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual in the centre. (Read more...)

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Idi Amin
Credit: Edmund S. Valtman

Idi Amin (c. 1925 – 16 August 2003) was President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. While President, Amin committed acts of violence against the people of his country; an estimated 300,000, possibly 500,000 civilians may have been killed under his regime. In this caricature by Edmund S. Valtman, Amin is depicted as a bloated, powerful figure in military dress covered with medals and insignia, holding a scepter, and crowned by a small head with heavy features.

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Featured biography

Chinua Achebe speaking at Asbury Hall, Buffalo.

Chinua Achebe, born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on November 16, 1930, is a Nigerian novelist, poet and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely-read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo village of Ogidi in south Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a language of colonisers, in African literature. In 1975 he was the focus of controversy when he delivered a lecture entitled An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". He criticised author Joseph Conrad for his unflattering depiction of African people, referring to him as "a thoroughgoing racist". (Read more...)

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